Instrumental Oasis #4
2010 / Z-Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Instrumental Oasis #4 is Venezuelan-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Zamora’s fourth installment in an ongoing series of recordings of original music crafted with keyboards, guitar, and nature sounds. The pieces are pleasant enough, but some of the rhythm tracks are out of synch with the music and a few don’t sound like they belong in the mix at all. To my ears, this recording seems amateurish and in need of some careful editing. The real surprise (for me, anyway) is that Instrumental Oasis #4 is a Grammy nominee for Best New Age Album of 2010. This album isn’t terrible, but it certainly isn’t one of the best of the year. I couldn’t find a review of it anywhere online, it never got onto the Zone Music Reporter Top 100, and was ranked on Amazon sales charts at 119,112 this morning, so how did this humble recording become nominated for one of the music industry’s highest awards?
The album opens with “Tropical Oasis,” performed mostly on acoustic guitar with keyboard instrumentation and tropical sounds. This is one of the more polished tracks and a nice beginning. “Underwater World” begins with guitar and ethereal voices; it continues with strings and later a kettle drum. It’s still okay, but then the flowing melodies become overruled by a snare drum playing an entirely different beat. The drum becomes frenetic and then suddenly disappears before the piece ends. I like “Port of Nostalgia” with its ocean sounds and haunting melody played on harmonica, cello, and oboe. I also like “When You See a Star,” a graceful piano-based piece backed by strings and voices, conveying a sense of innocent wonder. “A Long Journey” begins with a drum roll and cellos that are playing a smooth, melancholy melody. The drum rolls continue intermittently along with a kettle drum and cymbal. The percussion and strings just don’t go together. Cellos and flute continue the melody while the drums imitate a train picking up speed. A whistle blows, and then the flute and strings continue without percussion until close to the end when the train comes through again. This would be a lovely piece without all of the percussion. “Caribbean Pearl” starts out with a Latin rhythm that is never quite on the same beat as the melody. “Orinoco Blue” is another very lovely piece repeatedly disrupted by the out-of-synch drum. “The Bells of Love” has a pleasant melody played on electronic piano backed by flute, harp, and bells - and another drum track that is so off the beat that it’s difficult to concentrate on the melody.
I listened to Instrumental Oasis #4 many times and tried hard to like it, but I would be dishonest to say that I think this is a great album deserving of its Grammy nomination. It is available from Amazon.com.
January 19, 2011